NEW YORK CITY — Wednesday was the third day back in class for students and teachers at Great Oaks Charter School in Manhattan.
When kids enter the classroom each day, they wipe their area down with a disinfecting wipe before they sit, Middle School Principal Timberly Wilson said. It’s just one of many changes for students and teachers.
School buildings have adapted, too, with social distancing markers on the floors and sanitizing stations in hallways. Even students and staff have gone from old school to new school with mandatory masks. There are also stacks of masks around the school for any student or stuff member who needs one. They’re next to sinks where people can wash their hands.
Students also have grab-and-go lunches so there isn’t any cross contamination.
“Our HVAC systems were checked, filters are replaced regularly, we have electrostatic sprayers and make sure classroom doors are open,” Wilson said.
Teachers give lessons to the students in class and the ones at home at the same time; it’s part of their hybrid curriculum.
“I feel like you get more learning at school then virtual,” said 7th grade student Shani Ramos.
Jayden McGraw, another 7th grade student said, it does get uncomfortable at times.
“But I like the way they set it up, you could go in the corner and take your mask off and go back inside,” McGraw said.
There are mask break areas that are set up in classrooms so students can take five minute breathers without their masks . Once a child leaves, teachers sanitize the area before another student goes in the area.
According to Wilson, parents wanted their kids back in the school building for teacher guidance and interaction, socialization and discipline.
“One of the things we learned from shifting to distance learning last year, a lot of our kids struggled because they didn’t have the support like they did in the classroom,” Wilson said.
Temperatures are taken before the middle school students enter the building and there are staggered schedules during dismal, so they’re spread out.
Still, the risk of COVID-19 in classrooms is a big concern.
“You never know if I could get it or anyone else could get it,” said Ramos.
Cecily Robinson, a teacher at the school, said she accepted the risk of being tere.
“It’s totally fine,” she said. “I love teaching, our kids are our future.”
Charter schools in the NYC area are reopening at different times in different ways, but they do need to comply with state safety guidelines.
NYC public school students are expected to head back to class on Sept. 21. It’s still unclear what those schools and classrooms will look like.